Mar. 18th, 2018 | The 23rd Times

By | Bulletin, Lent, The 23rd Times, The Catholic Faith | No Comments

How Lent Leads to Healing

by: Kathleen Beckman – Catholic Exchange

Lent’s forty days of prayer and fasting offer a process of healing and liberation. In Lent we place ourselves nearer to the suffering servant, Jesus Christ. We ponder the Redeemer’s suffering. We remember that Christ’s Passion sanctified all human suffering. We relate to His pain because we are touched by the corporate weight of sin and evil in the world. It rubs against us in ordinary life. The Christian is called to push back the tsunami of sin and evil.

Demons are liars and not to be listened to but as Fr. Bamonte, a Rome exorcist, teaches, there are times when, in the midst of the rite of exorcism, a demon is forced by God to say something absolutely true to glorify the Father and torment the demon.

We were praying the rosary silently as the mandated priest began to pray from the “Rite”. Suddenly a guttural voice burst forth from the tormented person, “I hate Lent! We hate Lent! You believers do what you’re supposed to do! Hate!”

Why does Lent pose a real threat to the kingdom of darkness? It’s focus is on prayer, penance and almsgiving. This foundational tripod has the intentional purpose of formation for Love. We attempt to reorder our lives to the Gospel.


Through His suffering, Christ enters into our hearts anew; into that part of us that longs for encounter and healing. On the Cross, divine love is revealed. His Passion, the bridge to Easter, tenderizes our heart; challenges our mind. The Paschal mystery is a unique love story; it’s our story. It’s personal. Christ saw you and me from the Cross. With our sin we echo, “Crucify Him”.

Christ freely gives his life to save us. The demons hate Lent because the faithful remember our dignity in light of His passion. We recall the price He paid to heal and liberate us. Calvary is a matter of life and death. Through His wounds we receive healing as understood in scripture, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24).”

The following are 7 keys to healing liberation:

“Stay awake, alert”, scripture tells us. Lent invites us to keen awareness of God’s abiding presence. We examine our consciousness, and conscience to repent and gain freedom to know, love and serve God. We are always aware of what or who we love. Once I heard a priest retreat master challenge the audience of clergy, “Fathers, if you are not aware of the angelic presence that is filling this room presently, then your spiritual antenna is not tuned in.”

During Lent the Church intentionally increases opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Confession is one of two sacraments categorized as “healing”. Accountability to a confessor is healthy for the soul, offering relief from shame and guilt, releasing the weight of sin-sickness. Confession is a healing encounter with Christ who quickly embraces us with His tender mercies.

The Paschal mystery is the revelation of Trinitarian love. Inexhaustible is the contemplation of the Father’s revelation in His Son Jesus. During Lent we can grow deeper in love with God and more able to imitate Christ’s life.

Lent is a time to offer reparation for the sins of the world. In Roman Catholic tradition, an act of reparation is a prayer or devotion with the intent to expiate the “sins of others”, e.g. for the repair of the sin of blasphemy, or the sufferings of Jesus Christ. The opportunity to offer reparation on behalf of the sins of others is a powerful act of mercy. If I can offer to God my act of reparation for the sins of any family (mine included), it is a privilege to do so. If you have loved ones living who left the Church (who doesn’t?), you can offer reparation to the heart of Jesus. The Sacred Heart never ceases to be pierced by our sin. The evil spirits will tempt and discourage you away from offering reparation. Resist and they will flee.

Lenten practices encourage us to simplify our lives. Most of us strive for increased austerity during the 40 days of penitential practice. Prayer simplifies the heart. Fasting purifies the soul. Almsgiving magnifies the Lord. Interior and exterior simplicity exemplifies purity of heart. To be content with less is to make more room for God. We can ponder Mother Mary’s simplicity to see it’s genius and beauty. Even during her Son’s Passion, Mary models the simplicity of desiring only God’s will. Anyone who’s read the C.S. Lewis classic, The Screwtape Letters (a good lesson on spiritual warfare), learns how the evil spirits try to complicate our lives to distract us away from God.

Obedience is a willed response to faith in God. We obey because we believe and love our Creator. One third of the angels were cast out of Heaven because they decided to disobey, and rebel against God’s will. During exorcisms, we witness how very legalistic the demons are. Obedience is a protective armor. Scripture reveals that God loves obedience. Obedience of faith is sometimes difficult but grace makes it very possible.

Humility is truth; the moral virtue that prevents a person from reaching beyond himself. Pride does the opposite. Adam and Eve demonstrate pride through their disobedience in the Garden. Humility restrains the unruly desire for selfish greatness and lead us to true esteem with respect to God and others. Religious humility recognizes one’s total dependence on God. Moral humility recognizes one’s creaturely equality with others. Humility is not only the opposite of pride. It’s opposed to immoderate self-abjection, which fails to recognize God’s gifts and use them according to his will. Humility in Latin means humus, or ground.

Lent affords a special opportunity to consider Christ’s humility and imitate it. Pride can hide in corners of our heart. On Ash Wednesday the Church reminds us, “You are dust”, but we need to be aware that it is in His Blood that has sanctified, saved and healed the dust that we are.

How does Lent lead to healing? Accompanying Christ into the tomb, we arise with Him on Easter, a new creation.

Mar. 11th, 2018 | The 23rd Times

By | A Father Bob-Cast, Bulletin, Events, Lent, The 23rd Times, The Catholic Faith, Uncategorized | No Comments

Parish Mission with Fr. Bill Jarema

God is Rich in Mercy: Forgiveness, Compassion, & Hospitality

More about Father Jarema (Rev. William J. Jarema, B.A., M.S., M.Div., M.A.S., NCC)
Founder and International Director of the Mercy Center for Healing the Whole Person, Colorado Springs, Colorado, with numerous satellite programs throughout the United States and four foreign mission projects in the West Indies.

Founder and Spiritual Director of the Society of Missionaries of Mercy, for clergy, laity, men and women, married and single. The Society trains men and women to be spiritual directors, and inner healing specialists, lay missionaries dedicated to a spirituality of mercy and the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. As a Lay Catholic Movement, they are dedicated to the vow of conversion of life and the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.


Fr. Bill has provided workshops, retreats and clergy conferences internationally. As part of the Mercy Center team, he offers a residential pastoral care treatment program, the Vitality program for healing of trauma, grief and life losses, a 13-week Sabbatical program, and the Spiritual Directors Training/Renewal Program in Colorado Springs, Colorado every July.

Fr. Bill specializes in whole person healing, typology and team building, corporate development management and assessment, marriage, family and organizational addictions/dysfunction, and an eclectic approach to healing, wholeness and well being. He also provides a parish assessment program called; “Creating a Parish Think Tank” that will empower every level of your parish and school to contribute to designing a 3-5-year Pastoral Plan.

There are numerous audio cd’s for sale along with books published by Fr. Jarema. All proceeds go to the scholarship fund to assist missionary clergy, religious brothers and sisters and lay missionaries to attend the 13-Week Sabbatical program.


  • Fathering the Next Generation: Men Mentoring Men, Crossroad Publications, 1994.
  • There’s a Hole in My Chest: Healing and Hope for Adult Children Everywhere, Crossroad Publications, 1996.
  • Creating a Parish Think Tank: A program for helping parishes assess and explore resources, ministries, hidden potential and future growth and development, 1996. Distributed by Mercy Center, Inc.
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Alter: Comedy, Parables and Miracles & Angelic Encounters. Distributed by Mercy Center, Inc. 2005. pp 196. (All proceeds support 2nd and 3rd world missionaries who wish to attend the 13-week sabbatical program at the Mercy Center)
  • The Conscious Celibacy Workbook Distributed by Mercy Center, Inc. 2007
  • A Survival Guide for Church Ministers, Paulist Press, 2011
  • The Secrets of UDA: United Dwarf Alliance – The Telling Tree, 2013 Mercy Center Inc. or SBPRA
  • The Secrets of UDA: Escape from the Monastery of Fordosheol, 2014 Mercy Center Inc. or SBPRA
  • The Secrets of UDA: Despot and the Goblin Invasions, 2017 Mercy Center Inc. or SPBRA
  • A Funnier Thing Happened on the Way to the Altar: Book 2 More Comedy, Parables, Miracles and Angelic Encounters. pp284


Mar. 4th, 2017 | The 23rd Times

By | A Father Bob-Cast, Bulletin, Lent, Stories, The 23rd Times, The Catholic Faith | No Comments

Remembering Our Sick and Aging Catholics

by: Ray Holter – Parishioner

Every morning at the end of Mass, the priest calls several Eucharistic Ministers to the Altar, hands them their pyx that contain the Body of Christ, and having given them a special blessing, sends them on their way. Do you ever wonder, who are these parishioners, where do they go and who are the people they visit?

St. John XXIII parish has a very active Community Religious Services Ministry serving Catholics permanently residing in local medical facilities as well as those that are sick enough to require hospitalization or rehabilitation. This ministry, which began in the early 2000’s with 1 parishioner covering the few catholic patients in the small Gulf Coast Hospital, now includes 70-80 Eucharistic Ministers, almost all parishioners of St. John XXIII, offering their services at 4, and soon to be 5 facilities: Gulf Coast Medical Center, Manor Care Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Brookdale Memory Care, and Cypress Point Assisted Living & Memory Care. Later this spring the ministry will extend to include American House assisted Living & Memory Care; in 2019 we anticipate adding Lee Memorial’s Nursing Home to our growing list; and in 2020, GCMC will open two new floors and is expected to add approximately 200 rooms.


The Eucharistic Ministers carry the Body of Christ to these Catholics, pray with the residents and patients, and provide rosaries made by St. John XXIII Rosary Ministry. The rosaries are free to the patients, as the materials are purchased by the Knights of Columbus, and assembled by the residents of the St. John XXIII Villas. The Eucharistic Ministers serve as the first point of contact between our parish and many Catholics; they identify situations where a priest visit may be required. This is normally passed on to the parish office. However, on weekends, emergency requests are texted to the priest on call. Other patients are identified to the parish nurses for follow-up as they leave the hospital or nursing home. At times, Eucharistic Ministers encounter situations that are referred to one of the resident priests for follow up. On special religious days, e.g. Ash Wednesday, special teams provide these same facilities with special Catholic services.

While other parishes cover other hospitals in the area, GCMC is the only hospital where Catholic ministers from St. John XXIII visit 365 days a year. Even on Holy Saturday morning, when there is no Mass, special permission is granted allowing these ministers to provide the Body of Christ to the sick at Gulf Coast Medical Center. Except for 2 days without service during Hurricane Irma, St. John XXIII parishioners have carried the Body of Christ to the hospitalized every day since GCMC opened in 2009. What began as 1 person visiting the sick in the early 2000’s has blossomed to 4-7 every day. On any given day this ministry visits more Catholics than those attending the 8 AM Mass, and on many days, provides the Body of Christ to more Catholics than those attending morning Mass.

Each parish volunteer is generally asked to serve once a week between the hours of 8:45 and 10:30 AM. Many do much more. If you visited someone in the hospital and later visited someone in assisted living, you might encounter the same parishioner ministering to Catholics at both locations. Many dedicated parishioners serve multiple days and at multiple facilities. Many parishioners have participated in this ministry throughout the years.

While the Diocese requires fingerprinting and a class on safe environment, this ministry requires only dependability, and the ability to walk! The ministry team leaders provide all other training and facility familiarization. Each fall, the number of parishioners serving literally doubles; we are blessed with an influx of winter residents at a time when our demand for service is at its greatest.

Ask the Eucharistic Ministers why they serve and they will frequently respond– THE PEOPLE, those they volunteer with, and those they serve. Many parishioners that joined the ministry turned their common interest in serving into lifelong friendships, friendships that carry over to other aspects of their personal life, as well as other aspects of their service to St. John XXIII parish. Mostly, however, when asked, they will point to those they serve and launch into stories of the many special Catholics this ministry has allowed them to meet.

Recently, a Eucharistic Minister encountered a hospital patient who had been away from the church for 30+ years; after a lengthy conversation, the patient, taken by the fact the church had reached out to him, agreed to a priest visit the following day. The next day, Fr. Bob anointed the patient and welcomed him back to the faithful.

These stories will remain with them throughout their lifetime. Parishioners who once joined this ministry to “help others”, have discovered they are really helping their own spiritual life. Over and over, each minister can recount experiences with the sick and aging Catholics they have encountered as the ministers attempt to lead lives based on Christ’s teachings. Often, as they move throughout the sick and aging, the minister’s experience Christ’s presence and they understand that serving in this capacity is really Christ’s gift to them!

As new facilities open in 2018, 2019, and 2020, we will need additional parishioners to help in service to the sick and aging Catholics. Simply, we will need you—what are you waiting for?

Feb. 25th, 2017 | The 23rd Times

By | Bulletin, Interviews, Lent, The 23rd Times, The Catholic Faith | No Comments


by: Rich Byrne and Steve Zeder – Parishioners

As Roman Catholics, we have entered what is for many of us the most prayerful time of the year, the Lenten Season.

The term, Lent, refers to Spring, to a time of new life, of re-LENT-ing, of forgiving, of intensely praying. Through whichever of these terms the Lord is speaking to you, please listen and perhaps let it be a Lenten Practice for you.


This can be a season for rethinking the Sacrament of Baptism. At that moment, we were blessed with a new life, as a grace-filled member of the Christian Community! We were called into the abundance of life in Christ. Yes, in Christ! He is “the way, the truth and the life”. Let’s strive to live life to the fullest.

Many of us can be unduly hard on ourselves. We all make mistakes, even, occasionally, sin. During these weeks, the Church is asking us to be more LEN-ient, to ease up, to accept ourselves as God’s beloved children, a community known by how we love one another.

For many, this is a season for experiencing the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for especially attending to the many times during Mass we pray, “Lord, have mercy!”. These are days during which we can repeatedly recall through prayer that God is primarily Loving and Merciful, that we are unconditionally loved.

Hopefully, we pray every day of the year. However, during this Holy Season, our Church is challenging us to pray more attentively, more deeply, more lovingly. These are wonderful weeks for deepening your personal, prayerful relationship with Jesus, the One who suffered and died for us, who now dwells among us as the Risen Christ.

As we enter into the season of Lent and through the coming year, do you wish you could share the thoughts and times with those closest to the events of Lent? When you read the Bible, do you hear their voices? We often look at the Apostles, Disciples and those surrounding Jesus as saints but they were ordinary people in extraordinary times. Join with the Faith Alive Team for “On the Way to the Cross – Conversations with the Disciples”. On Tuesdays nights we will listen to, and stand by as witnesses to those thoughts and times.

On Tuesday, February 20th, we kicked off the Lent Season as we gathered to the River Jordan and listened to John the Baptist and Simon Peter talk about The Plan and the emotions drawn from them in response. Please join us for these remaining Tuesday nights:

February 27th: You’ll be able to stand with the crowd on Palm Sunday and hear from one disciple of the triumphal entry. You’ll hear the story of a young widow as she goes to the Temple and sees Jesus clearing the money changers.

March 6th: We will be witnesses at the Last Supper and at the Garden of Gethsemane. Close out the three weeks with a powerful conversation between Jesus and Peter which shows us the amazing Grace of God.

March 20th: Then as the Lenten cycle moves to its conclusion, join us again for a final week as we listen to Peter painfully recount his denial of the Lord. And walk with and hear from Simon of Cyrene as the Roman Centurion forces him to help the fallen Jesus. Then as we close the program and prepare for the events of Holy Week, stand at Golgotha with the Roman executioner and Barabbas.

Each week (6:30-8:00pm in the Community Room) during the videos and the discussions, you will feel the emotions generated by stories told by the people who experienced them. Hear from those who were close to Jesus through his death on the cross on Good Friday. Listen as Peter, Thomas, John and others recount the events of Jesus’ last days. Hear their stories and wonder with them as they touch you with their experiences. You will be transported to another time, another place and another sense of wonder as you are witness to the events of the Gospels. Walk away with a new appreciation of all these events of four weeks and be prepared to be transformed and draw closer to Jesus.